le tasting room

Loire wine tours, tastings, day trips from Paris & short breaks organised by experienced English wine trade professionals.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Hand harvesting for Chateau de Pimpéan

On the face of it, joining in with a little hand harvesting seems like an easy option. Reality is of course somewhat different - it's hard physical graft and requires stamina and fitness. An hour or two is manageable but 7 hours a day for a week and one quickly realises that it's extremely tough. 2 people share the responsibliity for each row moving with real speed, darting in and out of the foliage, cutting the (thankfully very healthy) grapes off and leaving any unripe 'grappions' behind. Every 5 minutes or so, the chap responsible for the 'hod' arrives in order to chivvy you along and empty your bucket before returning to the row. This inevitably leads to an enormous amount of bending up and down, lifting and emptying, crouching over and then returning to all fours in order to make sure nothing gets left behind. When someone misses a good bunch, others are quick to point it out with cries of 'une bouteille ici'. Having had the weekend off, we return tomorrow to continue harvesting for Chateau de Pimpean. Despite having sore legs and arms, numerous cuts and scratches - we feel rested and ready to go again. There is a great sense of teamwork and satisfaction when the tractor drives off with a full trailer of healthy Cabernet Franc grapes. For us, it gives the opportunity to stay in touch with the reality of growing grapes and making wine at ground level. There's an awful lot of hard work going on in the vineyard during the year culminating with vintage. Then, we wait and look forward in anticipation to this year's wines - they should be good...

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